"I had some issues trying to get connected up with 123 Pleasant Street," he said. "That was always kind of frustrating. So I didn't really play much in Morgantown unless I got creative about it."
One of the more creative gigs, he came up with was getting Black Bear Burritos in Morgantown to do an after-hours show when its kitchen was closed.
"And that was great. The place was packed and the crowd responded really well."
Mostly, Venderlic said, he had to play elsewhere to be heard.
Still, he acknowledged that he probably wouldn't have embarked on a career as a singer/songwriter if he hadn't gone to Morgantown, if he hadn't had the patience and encouragement of his first-year roommates.
Venderlic began playing guitar at age 10. Through high school, he played guitar here and there with other people, but he kept his mouth shut until he got to college.
"I had a really terrible case of stage fright," he said. "It was pretty pathetic."
During his freshman year, though, his roommates at Boreman Hall South would listen to him play and sing.
"They seemed to like it and they encouraged me to play."
From there, it took a little while to build up the nerve to start playing shows in public, but by the end of his sophomore year, he was touring.
"It was only a month long," he said. "It was a big loop through New England, and I had some holes in my schedule."
This past summer, though, the work was a lot steadier. He started in New York, went to New Hampshire, Maine, and then south to Savannah, before heading west to Nashville, Omaha then Chicago.
"It's kind of been the reverse of what you might expect. I played out of state -- or at least out of Morgantown -- to get to to play back here."
Playing "Mountain Stage" he acknowledged is a huge opportunity. This week, he's been rehearsing with a six-piece band to prepare for a set that will be heard around the world. It's a big shot for a local boy. Venderlic knows this, but it's still kind of nice that he gets to do it in Morgantown.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.